A breeze through trees

A news release caught my eye a few months ago. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, an organisation based in the UK, announced that they had managed to compile the first-ever comprehensive list of all known trees. The total? A staggering 60,065 different species. It then struck me that, unlike an event or an emotion, a tree Read More …

Can I quote you?

Borrowing other people’s music and weaving it into your own composition is far from uncommon. We’re not talking plagiarism here i.e. passing other people’s music off as your own, which seems to happen far more regularly in pop music than in classical. A composer might borrow from himself, which explains why you might get a Read More …

From Mandalay to Tinseltown. An excursion with Rudyard Kipling.

Were you among the traditionalists who tuned in to the UK’s annual televised Royal Christmas address, broadcast on Christmas Day? It’s currently delivered by Queen Elizabeth II, who was just a 6-year old when the first such royal broadcast was made by her grandfather, King George V, in 1932. He opened this enduring tradition with Read More …

September Songs

Having grown up a student in the northern hemisphere, September was never a favourite month of mine since it primarily marked the start of a new academic year. This mild dread was exacerbated by all the jolly ‘Back to School’ advertisements, since the experience itself never seemed particularly jolly to me. Knowing that Naxos will Read More …

A Magnificent Seven

Alan Fletcher is the president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival, one of America’s leading classical music events. He has every reason to be proud of the festival’s history and achievements; but he’s less enamoured of his country’s track record in promoting the works of certain 20th-century American symphonists. Last month he elaborated on Read More …

1951

In 1951, Arnold Schoenberg died. And I was born. Which hardly constituted a fair exchange on the Muses’ creativity balance sheet. But the year itself has always intrigued me by its habit of popping up in history’s list of milestones, as it did recently, when I tuned into a BBC World documentary. It took as Read More …

Party time at the Proms

Our 17 July blog made connections between some of the composers featured in the first four weeks of this year’s BBC Promenade Concerts. Almost two months on, and the world’s largest music festival is only now drawing to a close. The celebrated Last Night of the Proms will be held tomorrow, Saturday 12 August, with Read More …

Summer seasoning

As July turns to August many of us will be enjoying the sunshine and thinking of vacations past and present. For music lovers, few melodies conjure the languid spirit of the season as effectively as Summertime by George Gershwin, from his 1934 opera Porgy and Bess (8.110287-88) which is, paradoxically, a tale of hardship and Read More …